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Bavarian Beer Purity Law from 1516

The people of Ingolstadt like celebrating, and have many opportunities to mark their own traditions. Take for instance the Bavarian Beer Purity Law from 1516: not everyone knows that the Bavarian Duke William proclaimed what was in effect the first food regulation of the modern era at the Neues Schloss in Ingolstadt. In his honour, each year we celebrate the St George's Day Festival with a special brew served after an historical procession. Why not come and join us!

Ingolstadt the beer city

Bavarian beer is considered among the best in the world. No wonder: for centuries, this amber nectar has been brewed from nothing other than barley, hops and water of the highest quality. That was what Duke William IV intended when he decreed the Bavarian Purity Law in 1516 at a meeting of the Bavarian Estates in Ingolstadt. The ruling was proclaimed in the spacious courtyard of the Neues Schloss and extended the existing brewing regulations to the whole of Bavaria. In modern parlance, it reads as follows:

"In particular we decree that from now on, no ingredients other than barley, hops and water are to be used in all beers in all our towns and markets as well as in the country."

Opinions differ regarding the motives behind this Bavarian Purity Law: it is unclear whether it was merely intended as an early method of consumer protection or was more a form of protectionism to exclude competitors from the north, who had developed a penchant for putting intoxicating herbs in their brew...

However even in Bavaria, certain other ingredients were soon permitted and the brewing of wheat beer – an ingredient not covered by the Purity Law – began. The definition of "beer" is now broader and is protected by the Beer Act dating from 2005. It specifies which types of beer may be offered and what properties they must exhibit. In short, a bottle may only claim to be beer if that is what it contains.

But enough theory! Why not visit the beer city of Ingolstadt? Take a look around the place where the Bavarian Purity Law was first proclaimed, and sample some freshly brewed beers on a brewery tour. Here's what we have on offer.


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